I observe people. I like to sit down on a bench at a park and watch them interact. Most persons act polite, mild mannered, and pleasant. Most of us have heard news about a serial killer, a murderer or mass murderers, an abuser or a rapist. The eyewitnesses say, “He was a quiet man.” “He was a good neighbor.” “He did not have a mean bone in his body.” However, by the crime committed, we understand that the person portrayed, (to friends, family, and neighbors), a picture of themselves that was not the same as what they, truly, were.
I have worked as a customer service representative for many years. Some years, I spent working with the public at a retail store, the others; I spent working with the public over the phone. I have concluded that customers or representatives, are prone to act politely when in person, but on the phone, either can be rude, insulting, and, even, abusive. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule.
For some reason, when people are behind closed doors, they tend to have a greater disregard for the other person on the phone. Many times, they offend, insult, or mistreat each other. Their remarks vary in degree. Some are slightly sarcastic remarks, others are insults, and the worst, are cursing and yelling without restraint.
Why is it that a person acts one way in public, but acts differently in private? I have asked that question many times, and here is what I came up with.
Others can see their acts, when they are in public. When in public, they must constrain their temper, adhere to proper behavior, and maintain a good image. Why? Because, there are witnesses that can account for their behavior, they can get themselves in trouble with the law if they cross the line, and they could get a bad reputation. Most people do not want to go to jail, and nevertheless, ruin their reputation. Yes! There are persons that commit acts of violence in public, regardless.
There is a code of conduct that must be followed when in public. We are taught at a young age what is proper behavior. I can remember my parents telling me, “don’t do that. It is not proper.” The sounds of those words have stayed with me. I believe that our rights end where someone else’s begin. If my actions will offend or hurt someone else, then I need to reconsider what must be done.
They have to adhere to society’s rules in order to fit in. Society looks down on those that behave badly in public. We see it in the news. “Suspect exposed himself in front of the crowd”, “such and such, verbally abused such and such.” This kind of behavior is not accepted. By society’s standards, if they are to fit in, they must practice the best behavior possible.
Others do not see their acts when they are alone. This is an opportunity to be who they really are. In private, women and children are abused, people are murdered, and women are raped. In private, restraints of behavior have no concern, since there are no witnesses to their actions, other than their victims.
They make their own rules of conduct because they feel there can be no consequences. The saying goes, “no witness, no crime.” That is not true. Regardless of whether there are witnesses or not, a crime is a crime, and abuse is abuse.
There is no concern to adhere to society’s rules because they feel it does not apply. If no one is around, then who is to tell them what is or what is not proper behavior.
Customer Service Representatives and customers are mistreated every day. The emotional effect can create stress and mental anguish. The verbal abuse is meant to diminish self-esteem and control the other person. It is a shame that this silent abuse goes undetected and people continue to insult, mistreat, and verbally abuse each other.
The same way laws are used to arrest those caught in the act of breaking them, there should be laws that protect customers and representatives. There should be a way for each, to report the abuse, and take action against them. I believe that one person that is convicted for one such act, will send the message to others. It may help them constrain from acting improperly, and practice respect towards the other person.
Many companies, record conversations and maintain them in their files. If abuse is observed, then why not use that record to prosecute the offending party, be it the representative or the customer.
As a person, I understand that there are mitigating circumstances that can drive a person to act irrationally. However, it is our responsibility, to respect each other.
It scares me to think, that the same person I stand next to, could be a potential abuser. It scares me to think that my neighbor, co-worker, friend, or family, could be putting on an act in public, yet be capable of unimaginable things in private. We never know a person well enough to understand what goes through their mind. That is a scary thought of its own.
There is a saying, “You can never judge a book by its cover.” This is so true. A book, like a person has a look that we see on the outside, but what it contains inside, until read, it is unknown. With people is more complex. We do not know what a person is thinking. We never know what they are capable of.
Because there is no way to know what a person is capable of, when, and if they do commit a crime, laws that protect us will be enforced. However, the laws are not protecting the silent victims of phone abuse. In the meantime, the victims go quietly about their business, while the abuser remains free to continue hurting others.